MELBOURNE, Australia – Never let it be said that Bernard Tomic does things the typical way.
(Actually, nobody’s probably said that – ever).
On the eve of the 26-year-old’s Aussie Open prep matches at the Kooyong Classic, Tomic spent time on the practice court with … sister Sara.
He was doing a little coaching while he was at it.
Sara, still just 20, hasn’t played since last October. Both her singles and doubles rankings are outside the top 500. She received a wild card into the Australian Open qualifying four of the last five years. But not this year.
Here’s what the brother-sister session looked like.
The funniest part of it was that when Tomic spotted your Tennis.Life correspondent shutterbugging, he initiated a conversation. Clearly in a great mood, he was downright chatty with basically a stranger whose face might have seemed slightly familiar.
It was in sharp contrast to the last Tennis.Life/Tomic exchange, which was part of this classic Tomic press room moment at the French Open last year.
(The question was about why/how he played the qualifying wearing Lotto clothing – but turned up for his first-round main draw match wearing … Lacoste).
Sara Tomic and big brother took on another Aussie brother and sister pair, Sally and John Peers, in a one-set match at Kooyong Tuesday. They won it 6-4.
Tomic already had defeated Jack Sock 5-7, 6-4, [10-6] in his first men’s singles match. And then, on Wednesday, he took on fellow Aussie Nick Kyrgios.
It ended … thusly.
He wasn’t practicing that with his sister. It clearly was just a spur-of-the-moment bit of inspiration. And it was good enough for a 6-3, 6-4 win over Kyrgios.
Tomic’s single ranking currently stands at No. 85, even though he hasn’t played a tournament match since mid-October.
Passed over for a main-draw wild card a year ago in Melbourne, he fell in the final round of qualifying.
And then he went off to appear on “I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here” in South Africa. But not before saying … some things.
And then he became the first contestant in the show’s history to just … leave.
By May, Tomic’s singles ranking had fallen to No. 243.
So he did what Bernard Tomic would do: got inspired for a week and reached the final of a Challenger that week. That got him close to No. 200.
After some good results on grass, Tomic won a Challenger in Mallorca during themUS Open. He went back to Europe after losing in the first round of qualifying in New York to countryman Thanasi Kokkinakis.
A few weeks later, Tomic went from the qualifying to the title at the ATP Tour event in Chengdu. He defeated Fabio Fognini in a third-set tiebreak in the final here.
That effort moved the Aussie up nearly 40 spots, to No. 85. It sealed the deal in terms of returning to the Australian Open in 2019 without needing to depend on the largesse of Tennis Australia.
He played one more match, retiring in the second set of a first-round qualifying match in Stockholm in mid-October. And then pulled the plug on his season.
The mission had been accomplished.
What to expect from Tomic?
Tomic had been in the Australian Open main draw every year since 2009 – until last year. And he’s one of the few Aussies who typically has played well at home.
Every single player Tomic lost to in Melbourne between 2009 and 2016 was either a multiple Slam champion and former or current No. 1 (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray), or a Grand Slam champion (Marin Cilic) or a Grand Slam finalist and perennial top-10 player (Tomas Berdych).
But without any actual tournament play, there’s no way to know if the guy can become a first-week story at his home Slam, or a one-and-done.
Love him or list him, there’s never a dull moment.